Pawtucket cop Daniel Dolan found not guilty in shooting of unarmed teen

WARWICK - After a week of testimony, a jury took about three hours Thursday to acquit off-duty Pawtucket police officer Daniel Dolan of all charges that he unjustly shot a teenager outside a West Greenwich pizzeria in 2021.

Several of Dolan’s relatives and supporters gasped and cried with joy as the jury foreman declared “not guilty” to the first of four felony charges against the 40-year-old officer. The foreman would repeat the verdict finding three more times as the court clerk read each separate charge.

Minutes later the family of the shot teen, Dominic Vincent, now 20, angrily stormed out of the courtroom, his mother, Lisa, shouting: “He’s going to kill somebody! He tried to kill my son!”

“I don’t understand,” she continued. “I don’t understand.”

Dolan faced three felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon and a fourth count of discharging a gun while committing a crime following his encounter with Vincent and two friends outside the Wicked Good Pizza shop on Nooseneck Hill Road on a Wednesday evening in June.

Minutes earlier that night, Vincent, then 18, was behind the wheel of a black Audi that screamed passed Dolan on his way home to Coventry on nearby Interstate 95, the car using the breakdown lane to pass other vehicles.

Vincent, heading to the pizzeria with two friends to pick up a pre-ordered "meat-lovers" pie before it closed, was traveling between 108 and 126 mph on one highway section, according to a state police review of highway video.

Dolan testified he only pursued the car after he turned off the highway at his usual exit, Nooseneck Hill Road, and saw the car again in the distance.

Earlier in the week he took the stand in his own defense and said he wanted to have a “fatherly chat” with the occupants about their dangerous driving.

But the encounter immediately escalated when Vincent wouldn’t obey orders to stop from this man approaching them, dressed in street clothes and holding a badge of some kind. Vincent said he didn't know Dolan was a police officer or if the badge he held was real.

It evolved into a matter of self-defense, Dolan testified, after Vincent backed away from him and then “bumped” him with the front of the car. That’s when Dolan shot Vincent with his .40 caliber pistol through the driver’s window, smashing his upper arm.

Prosecutors countered that Dolan, a retired U.S. Marine who served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, “blew a gasket” that night, acted like a "lunatic," and treated the incident like a "takedown of al-Qaeda.”

Assistant Atty. Gen. John Corrigan said Dolan “was lying through his teeth,” when he said he was in front of the car and shot in self-defense.

A half-dozen witnesses described Dolan firing his pistol from the side of the car − not the front. That fact was supported with state police ballistics evidence.

That Dolan shot from the side of the car proved he was not in any mortal danger, Corrigan said.

After the verdict was read, Dolan hugged his lawyer Michael Colucci and his father Daniel Dolan Sr., who had sat behind his son for days of testimony.

Outside the Kent County Courthouse, Dolan, who remains suspended without pay, said relief was “one emotion,” he was feeling, “yes.”

He didn’t elaborate.

Asked what he would say to Vincent and his two friends whom he had encountered, Dolan said: “I think that’s between myself and the young men.”

His lawyer, Colucci, said: “We’re very relieved. He always tried to do what he felt was right, as he’s been doing for 16 years, first as a soldier, now as a policeman, So, his intentions were always good.”

Colucci said the fact that the jury deliberated only three hours “suggests to me that the majority was with us when they started deliberating. It’s kind of validating."

Asked if Dolan expected to get his job back, Colucci said “that’s for another day.”

While the jury did not hear any details, Dolan has faced other legal challenges in the last two years, including two civil-rights lawsuits alleging excessive force.

Pawtucket resident Michael Moreira claimed Dolan repeatedly punched him and used a dangerous chokehold on him during a confrontation that escalated one day in July 2019 outside Moreira's home, where a utility crew was working and Dolan was a detail officer. 

And a Pawtucket couple alleged Dolan violated their constitutional rights at a convenience store, also in 2019, when the man refused to identify himself and began calling out Dolan’s badge number. Dolan ultimately assaulted the woman and arrested her without cause, that suit contends. 

Both cases remain active, according to court records.

Last March, Coventry police also arrested Dolan on domestic disorderly and vandalism charges. They charged that he grabbed his 10-year-old son by the neck and pushed him outside to get to school, then with the family in a car, threw a toy hard enough to break the windshield.  Prosecutors dropped the charges days later.

As he left the courthouse, an angry Robert Vincent, Dominic’s father, said the justice system had failed his son.

“I’m sorry that it happened to him and we’re here to support him as much as we can − as wrong as everything is. "

As to Dolan, Vincent said. “He’s going to kill somebody. It’s just a matter of time. This isn’t the only incident that he has.”

The office of Atty. Gen. Peter Neronha, which brought the charges against Dolan, said Neronha "understands the family's deep disappointment, which he shares. He stands with them on this difficult day."

Contact Tom Mooney at:

Daniel Dolan takes the stand. He faces three counts of assault with a deadly weapon and a fourth count of discharging a gun − his .40-caliber pistol — while in the commission of a crime.
Daniel Dolan takes the stand. He faces three counts of assault with a deadly weapon and a fourth count of discharging a gun − his .40-caliber pistol — while in the commission of a crime.

The Daniel Dolan trial so far:

Dolan trial gets underway:Trial of Pawtucket police officer charged with shooting teen starts Tuesday

Opening arguments:Opening statements in Dolan trial offer different explanations for teen shooting

Damning witness testimony:Witness contradicts defense's story in trial of Pawtucket cop who shot teen – what was said

Dolan takes the stand:Pawtucket officer Dan Dolan takes stand in his own defense — here's what he said

Trial heads to jury for deliberation:Fate of off-duty Pawtucket cop who shot teen driver now in jury's hands

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Daniel Dolan, Pawtucket Police Officer found not guilty in teen shooting